Blood Will Tell
Fandom: PoTC Rating: G Pairing: none Full Header
"Hey there! What're you doing loiterin' under this bush?"
Closer examination revealed that the boy's fingers and mouth were red, not with blood, but with damson pie, the remains of which he clutched to his chest with a cunning (and strangely familiar) expression.
It's been too long, Jack thought to himself, but he merely said, "I believe I knew your mother. Burn any rum lately?"
"My mother's dead."
Jack raised his eyebrows at the nonchalant matter-of-factness of this statement. "I'm aware of that. I knew her before you were born. And we've met before, although you won't remember it."
A loud voice called, "William! William Turner! What have you done with my pie?" And William (for clearly this was he) cast a furtive glance through the leaves.
"You hot-foot it through the back gate and I'll distract her, aye?" With a grateful look, William slipped through the hedge and was gone.
Luckily, Jack had quite a bit of experience listening to women rant and rail. The cook's recitation of young William's crimes was lengthy and detailed, but Jack merely rocked back on his heels and solemnly nodded his head. Finally, she wound down, and said, "Lord 'a mercy, I apologize, sir, but I'm that put out with the little savage! What can I do for you?"
"Well, ma'am," said Jack, with his most ingratiating smile, "I'm looking for the savage's father. Might he be at home?"
Will's resemblance to his father had only increased with time. Poring over his books, pen in hand, Will wore the same grim and pinched expression that Bill had sported when last Jack saw him (just prior to Barbossa sailing away in Jack's ship). Mid-sigh, Will looked up and choked on his breath. "Jack? What are you doing here?" His eyes narrowed suspiciously. "What do you want?"
"That hurts me, mate, truly it does -- can't a man drop by to see an old friend without an ulterior motive?"
"It's been a long time, Jack."
"Exactly what I thought!" Jack hooked his foot through a chair and pulled it up to the desk, producing a bottle from his voluminous pocket. "Don't keep givin' me that disapprovin' look -- for God's sake, have a drink and let bygones be bygones."
The first sip was reluctant, but soon Will was putting it away manfully and had developed a distinct list to starboard. At first silent, he slowly began to respond to Jack's probing questions. His answers were oblique, but Jack was able to put the pieces together easily enough. Trouble had followed on trouble since Elizabeth's death. Money was tighter than it ought to be -- William would have Elizabeth's settlement when he came of age, but Will had none of it, and was too proud to ask the Governor for help. The commissions Norrington threw his way helped, but the townspeople preferred to do business with Brown, who might be a drunkard, but had never helped a notorious pirate escape. And then there was the miscreant in the garden, who'd driven off six cooks and eight maids with his antics. Not a pretty picture at all, and Jack wondered why Will stuck it out so obstinately.
That very question was on his lips when Will passed out cold on his desk.
Consciousness returned to Will slowly, and his first thought was that he was in the wrong place. The last thing he remembered was slumping onto his desk. The ledger had felt cool and smooth against his cheek, and Jack's voice had a soothing rhythm to it; he'd thought to close his eyes just for a moment, and then there was nothing. Racking his brain to remember how he'd gotten into his bed, Will stretched, and his arm collided with a sleep-warm body.
"It's too early. . ." Jack muttered, without opening his eyes. "Go back to sleep."
The sunlight streaming through the window belied Jack's words, and there was a distant clatter of dishes that suggested breakfast. Will ought to be up and moving, getting ready for his day. He tried to remember if he had any appointments that morning. Nothing came to mind, and he obediently closed his eyes and fell back to sleep.
Over a late breakfast (which might more properly have been called lunch), Jack broached the question Will had been anticipating since Jack's unexpected arrival.
"For God's sake, don't start that business again! He's all I have left of her. I can't leave him behind."
"Who said anything about leaving him? How old is he?"
"Nine in September."
"By the time I was nine, I was racin' up and down the ratlines like a monkey. Not a babe anymore - he's plenty old enough to come with you." His voice took on a wheedling note. "We could use a cabin boy on the Pearl."
"Are you seriously suggesting that I take my son aboard a pirate ship?"
"I grew up on a pirate ship, Will, and just look at me!"
"Yes, you're the very model of what every father hopes his son will be."
"There's no need for sarcasm." Jack tasted his coffee, made a face, and added two more heaping spoonfuls of sugar. "'Anyways, it's what your father wanted for you." Off Will's skeptical look, Jack added, "It's true! Your ma wouldn't have it, but Bill wanted you on the Pearl with us. Things might've turned out different if you had--"
"Aye, Elizabeth. Are you forgettin' that he's her son too? He'll take to it like a. . ."
"Fish to water?"
"Like a swan to water!"
Will couldn’t help but laugh.
Building on this victory, Jack continued, "What have you got to keep you here? A business that's half debt and half sympathy? A father-in-law who's embarrassed to be connected to you?"
Will bristled at this and then thought of Norrington's careful patronage and of Swann's pained expression when he visited, and found he could argue with none of it.
Jack leaned in, his voice a conspiratorial whisper. "Think of it, man! Gold, rum, adventure. . .every flavor of debauchery you can imagine. . ." On and on he went, painting a glowing picture of the free and easy life of a pirate (a picture in which danger, bloodshed, and the Royal Navy were entirely absent). Suddenly, he stopped short, and met Will's eye with a kind of sheepish sincerity. "Besides, Will, I've missed you."
"I've missed you too, Jack." And Will knew he would go.
William offered Jack one of the cook's missing lemon tarts and asked, "Are you truly a pirate?"
"I've read about pirates. . .In my mother's books. She liked pirates."
"That she did." Jack licked his fingers thoughtfully. "I'll tell you a secret, but you mustn't tell anyone until you join us on the Pearl. Can you keep a secret?"
"Your father's a pirate too."
This earned Jack a dubious look.
"He's just forgotten it, is
all. Runs in the family! You wait and see. . ."
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